Friday, September 28, 2012

Barley Beauty

Barley is an underused but powerfully healthy cereal grain.  And while many are familiar with pearled barley, the creamy white grain found in many barley soups and salads, it is actually not considered a whole grain.  The term "pearled" refers to the removal of the precious bran removed, which depletes the grain of its complete nutritional integrity. 

Hulled barley is the only kind of barley that can be truly referred to as a whole grain, as only the inedible hull has been removed during its processing.  Two delicious forms of barley are hato mugi barley (also known as Job's Tears) are black barley.  Hato mugi barley is a richer, softer form of barley that is truly delicious but can be difficult to find.  Black barley, on the other hand, is a bit chewier and firmer in texture, but is sometimes easier to locate in stores.

Whichever barley you choose, you are in for a fantastic experience!  Barley provides a rich, nutty flavor that is more full-bodied than other whole grains can be.  And its chewy, soft texture can provide a satisfying mouthfeel that adds great satiety to any dish.

Nutritionally, barley is exploding with minerals, complex carbohydrates, and soluble fiber.  This soluble fiber in particular makes it a wonderful food choice for people looking to reduce high blood cholesterol and blood sugars.  It is also excellent for weight management, as its rich fiber and water content make it a great way to add satiety to meals.

Energetically, barley is nourishing to the lungs and large intestines, by helping to balance the levels of moisture in the body.  It can also work to strengthen the kidneys, particularly black barley.  And as we move into fall and winter, these 3 organ systems are especially in need of tonification.  Choosing barley a few times a week can help keep us healthy and strong during the colder months.

A fantastic fall and winter barley dish is a warm black barley salad with winter squash.  Try out this wonderful dish this autumn and keep your body strong!

Black Barley and Butternut Squash Salad
Serves 4

1 cup black barley
4 cups water
3 cups diced butternut squash, peeled if desired
½ cup unsalted vegetable stock
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1 bunch green scallions, chopped
Juice and zest of 1 orange
¼ cup cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the black barley and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour and set aside, draining any additional water that may remain.

Toss together the butternut squash, vegetable stock, curry powder, cinnamon, and garlic powder. Place on the baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes. Set aside.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked barley, butternut squash, almonds, scallions, orange juice and zest, and cilantro.  Serve warm or chilled.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Macrobiotic Lecture this Month!

An Introduction to Macrobiotic Healing
with Anthony Dissen
Certified Macrobiotic Counselor

In this fascinating FREE lecture, we will learn more about:
■ What is Macrobiotics?
■ An introduction to Macrobiotic healing philosophy
■ Primary foods in Macrobiotics for reversing
disease and promoting wellness
■ Simple home-care techniques to assist the healing process

The Macrobiotic philosophy is about balance, and this lecture will
provide you with the introductory tools you need to live in balance
with the Universe. In this way, we can achieve true and long-lasting

Join us at 6:00pm on Friday, September 28th at Acutech
Acupuncture in Quest for Health & Wellness, LLC
315 Highway 34 (opposite Delicious Orchard)
Colts Towne Plaza, Suite 133
Colts Neck, NJ 07722

To RSVP, or for more information, please contact Anthony Dissen at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cultivating Your Passion

I consider myself to be passionate about so many things in this life.  Food and cooking, a natural approach to health, science, nutrition, spirituality, so much has fascinated me and continues to do so.  A powerful and principle aspect of our healing and evolutionary journey in this lifetime is not only recognizing what our passions are, but creating within (and around) ourselves an environment that allows those passions to be cultivated and nourished.

It is a true disservice to not only our health, but the health of those around us and the planet itself, that we are taught to tamper down our passions for the sake of logic or security. As children, hopefully, we are allowed and encouraged to explore our passions and imagination and play.  But then suddenly, we are told to put those silly notions aside and start to get serious.  One may love to paint or sculpt or write, but how many times have we heard that there is no "future" in that passion as a career and set those aside for something more sensible. And is it any wonder that this is when most diseases and chronic health conditions begin?  Most serious illnesses take 10-20 years or more to even show the earliest of signs. So if I'm told to abandon my desires in my mid-20s, and start to show signs of heart disease in my mid-40s, could it have had its origins (at least in an emotional or spiritual sense) in the disappointment we felt.  I remember once in college a chemistry TA told the class that if anybody was thinking of declaring art or philosophy or creative writing as a major, they needed to "grow up" and pick something more practical.  Even then I knew what a dangerously damaging that statement was to so many of the students in the room.

We truly must take the time to identify what our passions in life are, and take the time to nurture and develop those joys.  If I love art, that doesn't mean I must become an artist to be happy.  But nor should I abandon all attempts to keep art an active part in my life just because I choose a different career or path.  Yes, financial security is important, but it shouldn't be our primary goal in life. I know this is an overused and cliched expression, but nobody ever goes to their death bed and says, "I wish I would have worked more."

While I have no claim to be a member of any particular religion or spiritual practice (they are all too beautiful to pick just one), I was recently reminded of a passage from the New Testament in the Christian Bible by Larry Heisler, and amazing massage therapist and overall healer and teacher.  Revelation 3:16 states "God spews out of his mouth the lukewarm."  I have heard this passage many times before, and I've never really responded to spiritual teachings or sacred texts that make God sound angry or vengeful.  But if we begin to view these teachings in a less literal sense, I think a greater message can be understood.  If instead of viewing God as a literal figure who decides who's good and who's bad, we view God as a state of being we hope to achieve, this passage begins to make more sense. That state of total peace and connection to the Universe, where there are no anxieties or worries, is God (at least, to me it is).  And what keeps us from entering that state (i.e. being spewed from the mouth of God) is being lukewarm in life; missing that fire and passion and exuberance in exchange for playing it safe or blending into the background.

So how can we hope to enter that state of bliss?  By being passionate!  By warming up that fire of our soul with our joys and passions in life, not only does life become more enjoyable but healing can begin.  We can eat as well as we want, and exercise our bodies, and everything else we are told to do. But if we practice these actions without any joy or fire in our bellies, can we really hope to enter that true state of health? 

So as we transition from Late Summer to Fall, and that quality of introspection and self-reflection becomes more pronounced and powerful, I plan to go within and ask myself if I am truly living my life with passion and doing those things that bring me the most joy.  If the answer is yes: I'd better keep doing them!  If the answer is no: what better time to start?